Beijing – The majority of China’s top carmakers have no plans to phase out internal combustion engine vehicles despite public statements that echo Beijing’s net zero pledges, according to a new Greenpeace East Asia analysis of climate action by China’s 10 biggest carmakers.

“A slow transition to zero-emission vehicles hinders China’s carbon neutrality efforts. At the same time, China’s new EV producers are rapidly expanding, and the industry as a whole is moving towards an EV-driven market. Traditional automakers that fail to transition to EVs risk losing market share and falling behind. China’s traditional carmakers are now playing catch-up,” said Beijing-based Greenpeace East Asia campaigner Bao Hang.

Researchers analyzed battery electric vehicle (BEV)¹ deployment, net zero commitments, fuel efficiency, and emissions data transparency for China’s 10 largest automakers.

In 2021, China’s car industry had a carbon footprint of 1.2 billion metric tons, higher than the annual CO2  emissions of Japan. The same year, more than half of all global passenger BEV sales took place in China.

Key Findings:

  • In 2021, BEVs made up 12.8% of China’s passenger vehicle sales, a 7.8% increase year on year. However, China’s BEV sales figures are weighted heavily by BYD. Passenger BEVs made up 43.67% of all BYD passenger vehicle sales in 2021. By contrast, BEVs comprised less than 14% of passenger vehicle sales for each of the nine other carmakers included in the study. (See chart below for a list of each of the 10 major automakers’ rates of BEV sales.) 
Graph 1: The percent of BEV sales among all passenger vehicle sales by China’s major carmakers.
  • Of the 10 automakers, only BYD met fleet-wide corporate average fuel consumption (CAFC) targets² every year from 2018 to 2021. The other nine automakers failed CAFC targets at least once during the four-year period.
  • To date, six of the ten carmakers have announced carbon neutrality targets with timelines. However, targets by GAC, FAW, BAIC, Great Wall, and Chang’an lack either a reduction target timetable, clear scope of commitment, or both.
  • Geely’s net zero plan is noteworthy in that the company’s carbon neutrality pledge includes emissions from manufacturing, vehicle use, and the supply chain. Geely has also set interim emission reduction targets for both its manufacturing operations and supply chain. However, in 2021, BEVs made up only 4.47% of Geely’s total passenger vehicle sales.
  • Moving forward, transparency on emissions data could stymy efforts to achieve carbon neutrality among China’s carmakers. Half of the 10 carmakers – SAIC, Chang’an, BAIC, Chery, and FAW – have not disclosed emissions data even for their own operations (scope 1 & 2), and only Geely has disclosed data on upstream and downstream (scope 3) emissions.

“Net zero has become a bit of a trending topic, and some carmakers have rushed to put out net zero language. But there’s a real difference between PR statements and the actual steps that get you to carbon neutrality. Ultimately, a net zero plan that doesn’t include a phase-out date for internal combustion engine vehicles is quite empty. It’s a map without any roads on it,” said Bao.

Greenpeace East Asia recommends that carmakers end the sale of combustion engine vehicles by 2030. Carmakers must disclose detailed emissions data, including across their supply chains, as a lack of information disclosure puts companies at high risk of missed targets.


Read the full report here (in Chinese).


  1. Battery electronic vehicles (BEV) is used here to distinguish fully battery-powered electric vehicles from plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV), which are powered by internal combustion engines as well as batteries. 
  2. In 2011, China’s Phase III fuel consumption standards introduced corporate average fuel consumption (CAFC) targets, which established fleet average targets on top of the per-model standards already in place. 

For media enquiries please contact:

August Rick, Greenpeace East Asia, Beijing, ([email protected])

Greenpeace International Press Desk, [email protected], +31 20 718 2470 (24 hours)